Officials: Rain, economy impact fair attendance

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo County officials said rain played a part in a decrease the fair’s attendance compared to last year.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Rain showers and the economy put a damper on this year’s Curry County Fair attendance, according to county officials.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said gate receipts from this year’s fair totaled $71,806. Last year, the fair raked in $86,270 in gate receipts, which was a record year.

Pyle said 18,297 fairgoers attended the week-long fair at the Curry County Fairgrounds, compared to 22,625 a year ago.

He said intermittent rain showers during the fair week contributed to the decline in attendance.

“I think weather’s the big key there,” Pyle said.

August is traditionally one of the rainiest months of the year, according to National Weather Service data. The weather during last year’s fair was unusually dry, officials said last year.

Finance Director Mark Lansford said the economy also had an effect on the fair’s attendance. He said families can’t afford to go to the fair because they have less disposable income.

Other revenue sources this year included arenacross, carnival rides and an auction of carvings by chain saw artist Gary Keenan of Des Moines, Iowa. The county’s share of those revenues was $66,005, Pyle said.

Fairgrounds Manager Susan Ferrell said the chain saw carving show was a popular attraction.

“I think (the fair) went well; we had good crowds,” said Ferrell, who was hired in February.

Pyle said the county changed the way it handled fair revenues this year based on recommendations from the state auditor’s office in light of an investigation in December regarding missing funds from last year’s fair revenues. More than $19,000 remains unaccounted for.

No one has been charged in case.

He said staff members from the county finance department and administration handled all fair funds.

In previous years, the funds were handled by the county treasurer’s office.

Pyle said the finance department found a $186 discrepancy while reconciling cash and ticket sales. He attributed the shortage to mistakes while making change.

“Nobody’s perfect,” he said. “With that amount of cash, I am very pleased with the way the funds were handled.”